Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Canterbury Tale Begins

The first four days in Canterbury have been interesting and exciting, combining my expectations of what England would be like with some surprises. There are some aspects--which side of the road the cars are on, the double-decker buses, cobble-stoned streets, and historic buildings--that scream 'European'. However, America has a presence here too, or at least it does to me. From Asdas (the store about two minutes from my flat, which is practically a Walmart), to Pound Land (pretty much a Dollar Store) and even the McDonald's downtown, there are small bits of what I saw back home. The area we are in is most likely Americanized by the tourism industry, since tourism is a big part of the city. People here, though, are not at all like back in the US in the way of outward communication. People seem more reserved. They don't smile back on the streets or greet you when you walk by; everyone kind of keeps to themselves. (Admittedly, the distracting beauty of the city can be a probable cause of this..)

The living situation has come with several surprises on its own. Considering Donnie and I put different preferences on where we would like to live, and the fact that studying abroad is meant to give us new experiences/friendships, we were surprised to learn that we are flatmates. It's nice to have someone familiar close by, and we were able to travel downtown a lot the past few days to familiarize ourselves with the area and check out the shops. One of our other flatmates arrived yesterday, and--surprise!--she is also from Missouri, but attends school in Arkansas. We met up with people from her school and have made friends with several American students now. I'm anxious to meet other students at the start of the school year, especially because I have yet to speak with any native British students, or even any other students from other countries.

The thought of school is quite terrifying. I feel unprepared and nervous because I have no idea what my schedule will consist of or what classes will be like. Truthfully, I don't know a lot about the program, such as when classes even start or when I pay my housing fees. There were never any straight answers given to such questions, which has been rather frustrating. Hopefully we will be given some answers at orientation on Monday/Tuesday.

Living in a brand new country (and on my own for the first time) has been a fun journey. We have learned that washers/dryers in England are very confusing, and that it is better to ask someone how to use them than to Google instructions. CCCU should have made sure that all of the appliances had instructions because it has taken awhile to figure out how to use most of them. We still don't know how to work the oven, but hopefully that will change soon.

Donnie, her friend Sarah, and I went to the Canterbury Cathedral on New Years Day, and it was honestly the most awe-inspiring place I have ever seen. Pictures do not even do it justice, but it was so beautiful and much larger than I expected. We walked through the Cathedral, saw tunnels where pilgrims were kept to be separate from monks, the crypt, the tomb of King Henry IV, and so much of the incredible stained glass and art in there. I could have walked around for hours, just imagining how long it took to construct such a magnificent place.

- Jara
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